YSL asked if we were having pickle backs at Sunday’s BBQ cook-off and I initially had no plans. But this insidious question has eaten away at me all day and I decided in fact we WERE to have them.
But a problem; how do you make something that you’ve never tried before and you have no recipe for? A problem – but surely not an insurmountable one?
What’s a Pickle Back exactly? It’s a shot of whiskey (yes, with an ‘e’) with a pickle juice chaser. Simple. It sounds amazing (to me) but Hannah didn’t sound very keen. I doubt Alan Partridge would order one.
It’s an American thing – clearly – but has come to my attention by the excellent sounding Pitt Cue BBQ pop-up in London.
The whiskey bit is easy enough – and for my Southern BBQ quite clearly it should be rye, something like a Sazerac.
But the pickle juice. Now quite clearly to me that needs to be home-made and not from a jar. The idea of drinking Mrs. Hamisha’s by-water is too disgusting to contemplate. Not that people don’t use jarred juice – this impressive blog tried out 4 different “pickle juices” including the juice from a jar of pickled eggs. That’s quite an extraordinary effort.
Their conclusion was that Claussen half-sours had good pickle juice.
But really making my own pickles and juice is necessary. My first thought was that I should just make my normal dill half-sours. But then I thought; would dill-flavoured lactic acid water really be correct. I don’t mind admitting I got my confused face on about now.
Perhaps vinegar pickles are more appropriate?
YKL suggested I should ask for some help from the Twitter account of PittCueCo, they suggested:
“Indeed vinegar is in the brine. Almost 50/50 vinegar / sugar. Not quite. Long live the pickleback.”
Long live the pickleback indeed.
Are they really suggesting a brine of 50% vinegar and 50% sugar? I suppose it’s possible, I don’t really make vinegar pickles usually.
I clarified if water was replied. They replied.
“use some of the extract from the salted cucumbers. Tasty water!!”
OK, so here’s an entirely off-the-cuff pickle back recipe which I will now try out.
Enough salt to liberally cover them
500ml vinegar (white wine would be a good choice)
A couple of cloves of garlic, bashed
Salt cucumbers (Whole pickling cucumbers or sliced large cucumbers), reserve the water.
Bring vinegar, sugar and pickling spice to the boil.
Wait for it to cool.
Add cucumbers to brine in a Ziploc bag. Add the cucumber water. Refrigerate.
Then after a few days, drain and reserve the pickle water and serve with rye whiskey!
Don’t do this yourselves until I’ve tried it first.
Any suggestions welcome.
Update: I just tried this and it seems terribly sweet. Perhaps the salt from the cucumbers will balance this, if not I will add some more vinegar.